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Every once in a while I like to look at my finances and see if there are ways to save more money so that my spending never gets too out of control. Here are 12 ways I have found to reduce my costs and save money. If you really want to get crazy with it, take whatever you end up saving from each item and actually put it in a savings account. Every little bit counts.
Get rid of cable.
But don’t go all in on every streaming service there is or you will quickly be paying the amount of a cable bill. You can get just about all the entertainment you need out of Hulu and/or Netflix. Or, if you are paying over $100/month for cable, you may benefit from looking into a live tv streaming service like Sling or YouTube TV. I’ve tried both and have liked them, but we didn’t watch them enough to justify spending the money on them.
Cook at home.
This is huge. My husband and I have saved so much money since we began eating the majority of our meals at home. Cooking is not my favorite thing in the world, but we have made it work. Not to mention, it is so much healthier.
Lower Your Phone Bill.
Look at your cell phone bill and compare it to other plans. You may be able to find another comparable plan for much cheaper. Even if you find one that is $10/month cheaper, consider it. Little bits here and there can add up to a lot.
Find free things to do.
Instead of spending money every weekend on finding entertainment out and about, look for some free things to do. You can usually find free events in the paper or online. My local community has a website that lists all the events going on and there are a few websites that locals run that are dedicated to goings on in the surrounding area. Further, I’m sure you can come up with your own ideas. For instance, you could go on a picnic, go hiking, etc. My local mall has a great play area for small kids that is completely free, and we have gone by there on occasion to let our toddler play, especially on rainy days when she can’t play outside. Also, look into local museums. A lot of them have free days.
Look for discounts and use coupons when you can.
It goes without saying that you can save money by using coupons and, obviously, discounts. I have never been one to collect and use a lot of coupons, but I do occasionally scan the coupons section to see if there is one for anything I already plan on buying. Of course, there are sites dedicated out there to couponing and, used the right way, you can save a ton of money. My only word of warning is do not buy things you don’t actually want or need. That will just cause you to waste more money than you are trying to save.
Buy generic items when you can.
Generic products are usually so much cheaper than name brand products and, in most cases, they are made by the exact same company making the name brand products. Unless you know that you love a certain name brand product more than the generic, at least give generic a try.
Use the library for books, movies, etc.
Most libraries even have online versions so you can use an ereader or your phone to check out items. I am still a member of a few libraries from past places I have lived that I check out books from online.
Lower your utility bills by using less water, electricity, gas, etc.
In fact, use a programmable thermostat or set an alarm on your phone to raise and lower the temperature so your unit doesn’t have to work as hard, therefore increasing your bill.
Do Not Use Credit Cards.
Unless you can pay the full balance every single month, do not use credit cards. The amount your will pay in interest every month will kill you. Trust me.
Don’t go shopping unless it is for a specific need.
This is especially true If you have a shopping problem. Window shopping can be fun but if you can’t control yourself you will end up with a lot of stuff you don’t need and will probably never use.
Look at driving a cheaper car or renting a cheaper place.
Look at what you are paying in car payments or rent and see if you can go cheaper. Sometimes we outdo ourselves by getting a car we think we love but ends up costing us several hundred dollars or more a month. If you are looking to save and/or pay off debt, consider trading it in for a cheaper car until you are in a position to pay for a more expensive one. Same goes for where you live. If your house is costing you more than you can afford, it is time to sell and move to someplace a little more affordable. Or if you are renting, look for someplace that is still safe but cheaper or consider getting a roommate, if you are in a position to do so.
Budget, budget, budget.
This is the most important step you can take when trying to save money or pay off debt. List everything you spend each month and do not forget the non-bill related purchases like food, gas, etc. Even if it is just a few dollars, if you spend it monthly, write it down. Then you can clearly see what you can cut out. Further, use a system like The Fab Life Budget so you can see what you are spending on a weekly basis and then you will know what you have left from each paycheck to put in savings or put towards debt.
There are so many great ways to save out there. Most of them are common sense. I challenge you to really pay attention to your spending for the next month and see where you can cut out expenses. You’ll be amazed at how much you can save.